Residents of Rutenga Growth Point’s Ward 18 recently blasted the local authority’s delay on the reconstruction of the area’s flea market which Mwenezi Rural District Council (RDC) razed down following a directive from central government during the early days of the Covid-19 pandemic.
During the area’s budget consultation meeting held on November 8 at the council hall, residents took turns to express their discontent over the local authority’s lack of action in reconstructing the flea market.
Jasper Mhaka, a resident of Rutenga said it was surprising that council is developing cold feet on addressing their issue.
“Flea markets are a major if not the only source of livelihood for residents here. Lack of action and seriousness over this issue by the local authority is worrisome especially given that it is the same council claiming to be broke, that is now dragging its feet in reconstructing structures that generate money. What is worrisome is that there are individuals within council who are benefiting from the continued lack of flea markets in Rutenga. As residents, we need immediate action over this issue of flea markets,” said Mhaka.
The local authority’s treasurer, Richwell Sitera and the Human Resource (HR) representative Trust Magaisa who were part of the Rutenga budget consultation meeting, however, promised that the local authority would address the residents’ concerns with the urgency they deserve amid several objections from residents.
Another critical concern raised was that of some ‘dubious’ road contractors who are occasionally hired by the local authority and they end up doing substandard work.
Local businessperson Rex Gumbo said poor construction works done by some of the hired contractors is worrisome.
“We have got contractors with well-known documented track records of deceiving local authorities across the country, but it seems they are continuously finding their way getting tenders here. There is need for due diligence in selecting some of these contractors because right now we agree that the structures currently being worked on the N and R Road are completely substandard, ” said Gumbo.
Contacted for comment, Mwenezi RDC Chief Executive Officers (CEO) said the issue of construction of flea markets is top of their priority list and the re-construction process will depend on the rate at which residents pay their bills.
“We have made the issue of Rutenga flea markets construction part of next year’s budget but as you are aware, the rate at which we will fully construct the structures depends on how Rutenga residents will upscale their rate payments as well.
“The improvement of any other service delivery strictly depends on how residents adhere to rate payments,” said Chivanga.
The budget consultation also noted that the local authority managed to only collect 20% of the revenue from Rutenga Growth Point.